Presenter Information

Sarah A. WallFollow

Level of Education

Graduate

Keywords

Black Nationalism, Integration, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Critical Race Theory

Description

In an effort to unearth the roots of disparate conceptions of race in 21st-century America, this paper analyzes two oppositional paradigms in the Civil Rights Movement – Integrationism and Black Nationalism. The Integrationist movement, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., worked towards a shared America, a multiracial nation in which full citizenship and dignity was bestowed on every individual regardless of skin color. Integrationism was recognized even by its opponents as the Christian answer to segregation and inequality. Its commitment to nonviolence won hearts and minds throughout the latter half of the 20th century, becoming the primary cultural force responsible for the end of state-sanctioned segregation in the southern United States. Meanwhile, Black Nationalism, amplified by Malcolm X, was influenced by both the Black Power movement and the Nation of Islam. This framework promoted Black separatism, submitting that white people would never voluntarily give up their political and economic supremacy without violence. Its leaders argued Integrationism would erase the unique Black identity and colonize Black people within a white-led society. Black Nationalism persisted in academic spheres throughout the 1970s and 1980s, ultimately giving rise to Critical Race Theory (CRT). While CRT was first introduced in academia in the late 20th century, it is only now becoming a leading cultural paradigm for understanding race. This is not surprising: since Black Nationalism and its CRT descendent intentionally reject Christian values, the meteoric rise of this structural conception correlates with the increasing rejection of Biblical principles in mainstream American society.

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America Shared, or Separate? How Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Illuminate Conceptions of Race Today – and Where We Go From Here

In an effort to unearth the roots of disparate conceptions of race in 21st-century America, this paper analyzes two oppositional paradigms in the Civil Rights Movement – Integrationism and Black Nationalism. The Integrationist movement, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., worked towards a shared America, a multiracial nation in which full citizenship and dignity was bestowed on every individual regardless of skin color. Integrationism was recognized even by its opponents as the Christian answer to segregation and inequality. Its commitment to nonviolence won hearts and minds throughout the latter half of the 20th century, becoming the primary cultural force responsible for the end of state-sanctioned segregation in the southern United States. Meanwhile, Black Nationalism, amplified by Malcolm X, was influenced by both the Black Power movement and the Nation of Islam. This framework promoted Black separatism, submitting that white people would never voluntarily give up their political and economic supremacy without violence. Its leaders argued Integrationism would erase the unique Black identity and colonize Black people within a white-led society. Black Nationalism persisted in academic spheres throughout the 1970s and 1980s, ultimately giving rise to Critical Race Theory (CRT). While CRT was first introduced in academia in the late 20th century, it is only now becoming a leading cultural paradigm for understanding race. This is not surprising: since Black Nationalism and its CRT descendent intentionally reject Christian values, the meteoric rise of this structural conception correlates with the increasing rejection of Biblical principles in mainstream American society.